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CA Supreme Court Rules for Mesothelioma Victim

The California Supreme Court has reinstated a multimillion-dollar verdict for the family of a worker who inhaled asbestos fibers for years on the job and died from mesothelioma.

The worker, William Webb, worked from 1969-1979 as a truck driver and warehouseman for a firm in Los Angeles County that was a shipper of cement piping that contained crocidolite, which is one of the most lethal types of asbestos. He did deliveries of these pipes 10 times per year and inhaled high levels of dusty residue and was never warned by his employer of the danger.

The defendants were Special Electric Company and Johns-Manville Corporation; the latter company is now bankrupt.

A jury found that both companies were negligent and awarded Webb’s loved ones $5 million in damages. However, the judge overturned the verdict against Special Electric; he stated that the supplier did not have a duty to warn Webb because it should have been able to rely on Johns-Manville to provide such warnings.

The California Supreme Court unanimously disagreed. The court ruled that suppliers of dangerous but legal products should generally provide consumer and worker warnings. Those warnings are not mandatory when another firm in the distribution chain is known to know the dangers and can be reasonably trusted to provide the warnings.

However, this case was different, the court ruled, because while Johns-Manville was aware of the risks, there was no clear evidence that the manufacturer was aware that the deadly asbestos from Special Electric was much more likely than other forms of asbestos to cause cancer. It further noted that at least one salesperson from Special Electric misled customers by telling them that crocidolite was safer than other types of asbestos.

Our Virginia mesothelioma attorneys are pleased that the California Supreme Court overturned the actions of the original judge and reinstated the jury verdict. It is clear to us that the supplier of the deadly asbestos did have a duty to provide warnings to workers, and to provide them with the safety gear necessary to prevent serious injury.

The fact is that many companies that worked with asbestos often did not tell their workers about the dangers because they did not want to have to pay for equipment and systems to mitigate the asbestos dangers. Our mesothelioma attorneys have worked on a number of cases where the companies involved were aware of the dangers and yet did little or nothing to prevent their loyal employees from asbestos exposure.

We represented two workers both employed by a large railroad who both died from mesothelioma. The railroad stated that it had no asbestos in any of the products or items to which the workers would have been exposed as conductors or switchmen. However, our team retained industrial hygiene experts who reviewed many railroad internal documents. It became clear that the workers were indeed exposed to asbestos at the railroad. We reached confidential settlements for both families.

Our mesothelioma lawyers will accept any case that involves mesothelioma, but our speciality in particular is railroad mesothelioma cases.

If you have a loved one who is suffering from mesothelioma, please review our legal guide on the subject so you know your rights.


Richard N. Shapiro
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Personal Injury & Wrongful Death Lawyer Serving Va Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake & all of Virginia
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